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The new asylum rule's slow rollout begins in Texas

Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 6:52am

The U.S. will begin having asylum officers from Citizenship and Immigration Services interview migrants who are trying to apply for protection in the U.S., part of a rule change proposed by the Biden administration in April. 

In a press call, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and Executive Office of Immigration Review, officials who requested anonymity said the program will begin as a slow roll out in two detention facilities in Texas. A DHS official said the roll out would start Tuesday and could eventually refer hundreds of asylum seekers to the program.

Under the new roll out, asylum officers will begin interviewing a few hundred migrants by phone to determine whether they are eligible to receive protection in the U.S. under the legal definition of asylum. Border officials say only asylum seekers who plan to live in six cities — New York, Newark, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.

The new program aims to address a historic backlog in the immigration court system by shifting some responsibility away from the courts, while also helping expedite asylum cases, which can currently take years to adjudicate.

Under the new rule, cases should be decided within 90 days. Another official on the call said in cases where an asylum officer determines someone is not eligible for asylum, they can repeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. Another official said the roll out will begin with single adults in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.

Though the rollout begins Tuesday, its future is uncertain. A suit brought by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich could delay its full implementation.